Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Any of numerous usually small arthropod animals of the class Insecta, having an adult stage characterized by three pairs of legs and a body segmented into head, thorax, and abdomen and usually having two pairs of wings. Insects include the flies, crickets, mosquitoes, beetles, butterflies, and bees.
  • n. Any of various similar arthropod animals, such as spiders, centipedes, or ticks. See Regional Note at lightning bug.
  • n. An insignificant or contemptible person.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An arthropod in the class Insecta, characterized by six legs, up to four wings, and a chitinous exoskeleton.
  • n. Any small arthropod similar to an insect including spiders, centipedes, millipedes, etc
  • n. A contemptible or powerless person.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Of or pertaining to an insect or insects.
  • adj. Like an insect; small; mean; ephemeral.
  • n. One of the Insecta; esp., one of the Hexapoda. See insecta.
  • n. Any air-breathing arthropod, as a spider or scorpion.
  • n. Any small crustacean. In a wider sense, the word is often loosely applied to various small invertebrates.
  • n. Fig.: Any small, trivial, or contemptible person or thing.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A small, usually winged and many-legged, invertebrate creature whose body appears to consist of several segments: a term used in popular speech without exactitude, being applied not only to flies, fleas, dragon-flies, butterflies, moths, bees, wasps, crickets, grasshoppers, roaches, beetles, bugs, lice, and other familiar creatures properly called insects, but also, improperly, to other small creatures whose structure and relations are not popularly understood, as the so-called coral insect, which is an actinozoan.
  • n. In zoology, any member of the class or other division of animals called Insecta; an arthropod; a condylopod; an articulated animal with articulated legs, especially one with six such legs; a hexapod. See Insecta and Hexapoda, 1.
  • Of, pertaining to, or of the nature of an insect or insects: as, insect transformations; insect architecture.
  • Like an insect in any respect; small; mean; contemptible.
  • To seek or catch insects, as a bird does.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. small air-breathing arthropod
  • n. a person who has a nasty or unethical character undeserving of respect

Etymologies

Latin īnsectum, from neuter past participle of īnsecāre, to cut up (translation of Greek entomon, segmented, cut up, insect) : in-, in; see in-2 + secāre, to cut; see sek- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin insectum ("with a notched or divided body, cut up"), from perfect passive partciple of insecō ("I cut up"), from in- + secō ("I cut"), from the notion that the insect's body is "cut into" three sections. Calque of Ancient Greek ἔντομον ("insect"), from ἔντομος ("cut into pieces"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

Wordnik is becoming a not-for-profit! Read our announcement here.

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.